The Hot Iron

A journal on business, technology and occasional diversions by Mike Maddaloni

Friday, May 23, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 23 2014

photo of a Caronarita

I grabbed one of the last pieces of paper on one of those pads that has a magnet on the back and you stick on a refrigerator – before my kids got to it for their various art projects – to carry with me and log what I learned.

  • I had my first, and most likely my last, Coronarita. Pictures here, it is a margarita with a mini Carona Beer bottle, called a Caronita, inverted in it with a special plastic holder. I like margaritas, but not with beer in them.
  • When I was a kid, you never paid for anything at school except for lunch. You got all of your school supplies and went on field trips at no extra cost. Clearly that is not the case today, as I find myself sticking an envelope in my daughter’s backpack almost weekly with money in it. It would be great if I just paid a lump amount at the beginning of the school year for everything, and if it went under, then the school gets the balance. Like one of those Popeil “set it and forget it” ovens, or maybe that’s a bad analogy?
  • Comfort comes at a cost.
  • Speaking of comfort and cost, after I learned the previous statement, I got a glaring example with platinum passes for Lollapalooza, the massive 3-day concert in Chicago’s Grant Park this summer. The pass gives you everything from golf-cart rides around the grounds to air-conditioned bathrooms to food and drink, all for the bargain price of US$3,600.00. Nice to know, but I’ll take the grunge of Riot Fest over this any day.
  • I have never been a fan of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, and thought it was way too much to spend for such a tool. The Dyson hand dryers you find in public bathrooms are ok, but not everyone can bend their wrist that way. Now if Dyson wants to really have a coup, they should make a car vacuum cleaner that actually works. Now that is something I’d pay money for. Needless to say, I am on my third car vacuum in a year and I don’t see this one lasting either.
  • The authenticity of kids toys is amazing today, including something I took a double-take on at my kids daycare – a wooden toy Keurig machine.
  • Just as I finished ordering for my kids first visit to a Chipotle Mexican restaurant this past week for Taco Tuesday, and tried to articulate their choices to the antsy staff, one of the staff said, “we do have a kids menu.” Who knew? And why isn’t it on the sign anywhere?
  • Put to the test this past week was my new bike lights, which are LED and rechargeable with a USB adapter. The Blackburn Flea 2.0 Front Headlight and Rear Light Combo worked great as I got an evening bike ride in along Lake Michigan. Now if I weren’t one of the few people along the lake trail with lights it would even be more beneficial.
  • The blog post I wrote yesterday about the great service GiveBackBox was written with my voice, using the Siri function on my iPhone and the Notes app. I did it over the weekend during downtime, and for this first attempt it worked well. After I “wrote” it, I emailed it to myself, and edited it on my PC. It was a fairly straightforward story so it worked well. I have already started another post, which I am sure will need much more editing.
  • Though I still do not have a TV, I couldn’t not hear about the “drum-off” between Chad Smith, the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and actor Will Farrell, which occurred last night on the Tonight Show. I’ve seen the Chili Peppers several times over the years, and once ran into Smith – literally – as I was coming out of the men’s room and he was walking in after their show at the University of Albany in 1990.Years later I met Farrell after he ran the Boston Marathon and I was a volunteer there, though this only involved a handshake and not almost being knocked over. The drum-off made for more than good TV – you can click the previous link to view it or the video is embedded below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/23/14 at 09:57 PM
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

GiveBackBox Makes Giving Excess Easy

GiveBackBox home page

We are a society of stuff. We get new stuff and get rid of the old stuff. With home delivery, overnight shipping, Amazon Prime and other ways getting stuff is very easy. Getting rid of stuff is a different story, for either we put it out on the street, throw it away or put it in a bag and lug it to Goodwill or Salvation Army. With all these ways methods it takes a level of effort to do so, and isn’t always convenient. With GiveBackBox now there is a way of getting rid of things that is just as easy as getting them.

GiveBackBox, which launched last year, is a service where you can create a UPS shipping label to put on any box of things you want to get rid of. You simply go to their Web site at givebackbox.com, enter your email address and the UPS shipping label is presented to you as an image which you can print out and put onto a box. The label itself is a return shipment label so you don't have to weigh the box or enter its dimensions. Just fill a box, put the label on it and drop it off at UPS Store, Staples or give to any UPS driver. The label has the address of Goodwill in Indiana. There is no cost to generate a label for anyone.

I first heard about GiveBackBox on Twitter late last year. I thought the idea was brilliant and I had to try it out for myself. Originally you had to register and create an account to use this site but now they removed that and you can just enter your email address to get a label.

The service was started by Monica Weila who runs Style Up Girl, an eCommerce site that sells women’s shoes. On the GiveBackBox Web site it tells a story about how she saw a man on Michigan Avenue in Chicago who wanted a pair of shoes. As she didn’t have mens shoes, she got some and went back, but he was gone. This was the catalyst for what has become this service.

I have been using GiftBackBox for several months now and have sent over 10 boxes of stuff. Some boxes were bigger or smaller than others, but every time I was reusing a box that came from something I ordered online. Living in the city, I end up storing a bunch of stuff to give away and I really don’t have the space to do so. With GiveBackBox you can just send the things as you go. Granted larger items like baby gates and desks are nothing that you are going to box up, and those are things that I actually will bring to Goodwill or Salvation Army. But for the most part clothes or small items are perfect for the service. You can also get a receipt for your donation by going to the Goodwill Web site and filling out a donation form you can print it or save it as a PDF for your taxes.

I like a lot of things about GiveBackBox and I have recommended it to many people and I suggest you give it a try at givebackbox.com. Let me know what you think of the service and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/22/14 at 08:33 PM
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Friday, May 16, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 16 2014

photo of gravity tank with Swedish flag painted on it in Andersonville, Chicago

Not everything we learn in the course of a week is a life lesson or something which jumps out at you completely. But even though I never hear a lot of feedback or get a lot of comments on these posts, for me, it is a good way to end the week and look back.

  • The water gravity tank that was atop the Swedish American Museum in the Andersonville section of Chicago still exists. It now sits in a parking lot, as pictured above. Reports are it may cost upwards of US$200,000 to repair and replace, and a fundraising effort is underway. Perhaps there may be a cheaper way to restore the structure, and one which does not collect water, as when it was removed it was full of ice.
  • Prior to taking the picture of the gravity tank, I attended a performance of Barrel of Monkeys. They are a group of teachers and performers who work with public school students and teach them about creative writing, then stories are selected and a sketch is created by the actors. I know I did not do this description justice, so visit their Web site and look for when their next performance is, and thank me later.
  • Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, was born in Chicago, and lived here until he was 2 years old.
  • I got a new work PC this week, and it has a touch screen and is running Windows 8.1. I really didn’t need a new computer, but the lease was up on my “old” Windows 7 PC, which I really liked. I have only used the basics of touch on it, as my big hands don’t work well with the small text in menus, etc. Looking forward to trying out new apps designed for Windows 8.1, and in the meantime I will use it just like I did my Windows 7 PC.
  • The NFL’s New England Patriots have created a jersey guarantee offers someone who purchased a jersey for a player, and then if that player is no longer under contract with the team, a 25% discount on a new jersey. This is of course built upon the team’s previously successful exchange program for the jersey of Aaron Hernandez, which I feel is even more genius on the part of the Patriots, especially with the cost of jerseys today.
  • Tickets went on sale and the line-up of bands was announced for Riot Fest, a 3-day outdoor concert in Chicago, as well as Denver and Toronto, which encompasses many stages with bands and acts performing simultaneously, not to mention a carnival and midway of rides. Of all the bands performing, include The Cure, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Social Distortion (a few of my favorite bands from the 80’s), is Jane’s Addiction. What’s interesting about them is their lead singer, Perry Farrell, is the creator and still involved in another similar and larger concert in Chicago, Lollapalooza. I’ll be at the Chicago shows at Humboldt Park on September 12-14, will you?
  • This past week I got an off email from photo-sharing service Shutterfly that was a little odd. I rarely use the service, and the message seemed to be in response to the fact that I was pregnant, which despite wild rumors is the furthest from the truth. I then got another email from them, with an apology from their Chief Marketing Officer John Boris saying they were “truly sorry” for the email. When I got the email, I tweeted about it and got a few snarky comments from friends, and that was it. But as the topic of pregnancy can be extremely sensitive, I am sure it pissed someone off.
  • Workers began installing the letters “TRUMP” on the Trump Hotel and Towers in Chicago. The 20-foot high letters will be facing the Chicago River side of the tower, which means when I walk out my front door every morning I will see them. So far they have the letter “T” installed and had it lit up at night. Where it may appear a little tacky, I am in favor of any building having branding on it, as that brand is the reason why the building is there – or in other words, they built it.
  • There have been a lot of attacks on human resource departments in technology publications, which has resulted in very defensive responses from the HR community. I think one thing that some people who are not in favor of HR departments, namely employees, fail to remember is that at the end of the day, the HR department serves the company, not the employee.
  • May 15 is Fluevog Day, where large discounts and events occur at John Fluevog shoe stores around the world. I learned that it is also the birthday of the eponymous owner. I only own 2 pairs of shoes and they are both Fluevogs – the Will and Bodden styles. At 5:15 pm local time in each store, a “class photo” is taken of staff and customers, and it will be sent to each person pictured, personally autographed by John himself. Where these activities may seem unusual, they are in-line with the social outreach and great attitude of the brand over the decades, even long before social media was on the scene.
  • In an interview in Time magazine, actor Colin Firth discussed speaking Italian and used Italian swears. As someone who is Italian-American, and sadly does not speak Italian, I of course know some of those swears he spoke of, and more that he didn’t. Firth’s wife is Italian and she taught him, which I think is awesome. You can see the video embedded below or click the article link above to watch it.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/16/14 at 12:05 AM
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 9 2014

photo of a what I learned written on a withdrawal slip

With ATMs that accept cash and check deposits without an envelope and mobile apps which take a picture of a check to deposit, the end of the deposit slip, along with its sibling the withdrawal slip, is coming soon. Fortunately the back of these are blank and a withdrawal slip made for a nice way to track what I learned throughout the week.

  • I finally “tuned” into Double J, the new all-digital radio station launched in Australia and the sibling of Triple J, Down Under’s nationwide terrestrial and digital alternative music radio station. I have only listened once but liked its eclectic mix and hope to tune in more.
  • When my family traveled out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin last week for my wife’s Aunt’s funeral, we learned about JAMF Software, a company who makes enterprise management software for Apple computers and devices. For those who don’t know what enterprise management software is, it basically makes it easy to keep track of a bunch of computers. The company, which started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is moving “back” to the hometown of the founder in Eau Claire, and making quite a splash in its new headquarters and even buying an old hotel and making it into a boutique hotel. A friend who lives there is a teacher and had the founder as a student, and she is proud of his accomplishment. As for what JAMF stands for, see it here, but note there are some asterisks and other symbols making the works safe for work!
  • Where one Eau Claire hotel is making a comeback, another declined and is now gone, and we were wondering why it wasn’t coming up as having occupancy for when we were there.
  • Where some hotels in Wisconsin come and others go, yet another lingers on. Along I-94 in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, across the highway from an outlet mall is an odd looking place called the Gobbler. It is the restaurant of what was a futuristic hotel built back over 50 years ago. Where the hotel portion is now gone, the abandoned restaurant remains. The link above has some decent pictures and all you need to do is search on the Gobbler for more stories about this unique landmark.
  • The Spanish word for panties is “calzones” and I will never think of the Italian food the same way again.
  • It appears the OtterBox Armor line of mobile device cases has been discontinued by the manufacturer. I got a hint to it over the holidays when I saw the cases for around US$25, about a quarter of their original sale price. The idea behind the Armor line was you could drop the phone on a hard surface or in the water and no damage. Granted the case doubled the thickness and weight of the mobile device. But when my 3-year old launches my iPhone across the room, I am rest-assured I can still pick it up and play Angry Birds.
  • I bought some Dasani Sparking water in cans this week. The Dasani brand is owned by Coca-Cola, and this appears to be the first “national” seltzer brand, as many are regional such as La Croix and Polar, the latter which is my longtime favorite from central Massachusetts. One thing I noticed on the can of Dasani Sparkling with lemon flavor is that it contains natural flavoring with zero calories like other brands, but it also contains 25 mg of sodium, where other brands are sodium free. Not sure what Coke put in the formula that needs to contain salt, but others seem to be able to flavor it without it.
  • The hammer finally fell on CardMunch as its owner LinkedIn finally announced it was shutting down the business card scanning app and service. CardMunch has had issues for a long time yet LinkedIn has been surprisingly mum and slow to respond to the outcry for what was a decent service. They are partnering with Evernote to offer a similar service, but I have already moved on with CamCard.
  • When you notice a change in the email name from “Tech Support” to “Customer Service” be expecting a dumb-downed level of support, as I have sorely noticed from one vendor of mine.
  • Whenever I checkout from a Walgreen’s store I see flashed on the pay station a screen where I can press a button to get my receipt emailed to me. As my cat-like reflexes have waned in recent years, I have not been able to catch the split-second display of the option. However the other day luck came my way and I was able to press it in time, and did get my receipt emailed to me. I am not sure why it works that way, but I am not going to raise it with the drugstore behemoth – every time I raise an issue with them on social media, namely Twitter, they tell me they created a ticket for me, but then never respond and whenever I follow-up with them, they never respond.
  • As I have been remiss in writing about my favorite self-cloud service ownCloud, I thought I would share this great video they recently released and I finally watched this week. It’s from their commercial side, but ownCloud is an open-source, free application. It is just over a minute and explains well part of the power of this self-hosted service. View it embedded below or view the ownCloud video on Vimeo.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/13/14 at 08:21 AM
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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Support The A Team In The Chicago Liver Life Walk On SATURDAY June 14

Liver Life Walk logo

Please support me in the Liver Life Walk on SATURDAY, June 14, 2014 in Chicago to support the American Liver Foundation (ALF). This great organization uses money raised to fund research and provide support services for patients and their loved ones who are affected by the many forms of liver disease.

Sadly, liver disease can affect people from newborn to the elderly. Yes, even babies can be born with a form of liver disease, with many being autoimmune and even acquired later in life. Some are curable and some are not, and that’s where the research comes into play. As well, many patients need a liver transplant as their only option. There are even some liver diseases that affect certain demographics, for example women only,

Why My Family And I Are Walking

I will be at the Liver Life Walk with my lovely wife and my little ones on SATURDAY, June 14 in the memory of my Mom, Adeline. It’s in her memory in spirit that we call our team The “A” Team and we will be walking.

photo of Mike and his Mom

My Mom was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, or PBC. PBC is an autoimmune liver disease that afflicts women. Earlier in her life she actually had been tested for some of the warning signs of PBC, but as liver tests are expensive and not routinely given to patients (not to mention needing to be justified to the nth degree for health insurance, but don’t get me started there!), it wasn’t until it was almost too late that she got the diagnosis. Her doctors did much to comfort her and cure the symptoms, but ultimately there wasn’t anything they could do to cure the PBC.

When she was diagnosed in Boston, the ALF chapter there was a great resource for us to learn about the disease. My family became active in the chapter there and my wife and I were proud to be asked to be the co-chairs for the Walk for Research (as it was called then) in Boston in 2004, which was shortly before we moved to Chicago. When we arrived here we were introduced to the local Illinois chapter and participated the the Walk here, and I was honored to have been chair for the 2005 Chicago Walk.

Join Us, Donate or Both!

We would be honored to have you be a part of The “A” Team by donating, not to mention joining us on SATURDAY, June 14 as we walk along Lake Michigan.

Donate to the Liver Life Walk

Any size donation is welcome, and your presence there as well will be a great support for the cause.

Thank you in advance for your support and Go Liver!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/08/14 at 09:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What I Learned This Week For May 2 2014

photo of a drawing of bugs

It’s a good thing I didn’t use the piece of paper shown above to keep my learned list for this past week, as them my little girl would not have been able to have drawn this picture of bugs. I thought the circular shape was an apple, but she wondered why I would even think of such a thing. Needless to say, she’s spending some time in art camp this summer.

  • This past week my wife’s Aunt Irene passed away too early at the age of 95. As of course I was fortunate to know her later in life, I never knew about her earlier life, such as she was born here in Chicago and she enlisted in the Army as a nurse the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They don’t make them like that anymore.
  • Speaking of history and Chicago natives, if you are on Twitter you should follow Michael Beschloss, a historian who tweets regularly some amazing historical pictures. Even if you are not a history buff you will surely find some of them interesting.
  • I have been a minivan owner for over a year now. It is such a damn functional vehicle. Special thanks to the fine folks at Silko Honda for making the buying experience so enjoyable!
  • Bob Mould will be performing at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion on June 23 as park of their Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays series. I missed seeing him at Riot Fest last year and can’t wait to catch his powerful performance in a few weeks.
  • My friend Lee is still going strong with his Market Outlook blog. If you are a financial type, you may get some value out of this, as it does run a bit too technical for my capacity.
  • I was a little surprised when I saw the proofs of my daughter’s school photos and they had a solid green background. It turns out that the photography studio is employing chroma key to then allow us to select a custom background for the photo. Where this is unique, sadly the choices of backgrounds left much to be desired.
  • It is possible in the SQL Server Management Studio to change the default of 200 rows for editing to an unlimited amount. This post explains how to easily change the number of rows from 200 Thanks to my good friend Alex for finding this and letting me know about it..
  • Whenever I think of Bob Mould and the band he was with in the 80’s, Husker Du, I can’t not think about their performance on NBC’s Today Show in the mid 80’s before they broke up. Why? Watch this video on YouTube of Bryant Gumbel interviewing Bob Mould and notice the puzzled look on Bob’s face to Gumbel’s questions – clearly he did no research on the band before he asked these questions! You can follow the link or watch the video embedded below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 05/07/14 at 06:00 PM
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Friday, April 25, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 25 2014

The back of one of my tax receipts, which I had long digitized and set to my accountant, served as the log of my learnings for this week. Where I didn’t learn anything from the receipt, I wondered why we still have paper receipts for taxes, or why we don’t have a flat tax and just fill out a postcard like Steve Forbes suggested. But I digress.

  • photo of the Chicago Athletic Association buildingWith new or refurbished windows covered in plastic in place, plus the lack of noise pollution from building materials being dumped down a metal chute subsided, it is my presumption the rehab of the former Chicago Athletic Association into a boutique hotel has now begun. The yet-named hotel, to be owned by a member of the Pritzker family, who know a thing or 2 about hotels, will be a welcome addition to the Loop neighborhood of Chicago. So is the ceasing of almost 9 months of the dumping of building materials down the metal chute! I look forward to the opening of the hotel and neighborhood room discounts.
  • The colder than normal spring here in the Midwest, including a snowstorm the Thursday before Easter, timed just right for me to experience first-hand the process of converting maple tree sap into maple syrup. From trees tapped to boiling down of over 200 gallons of the clear liquid to make only about 5 gallons of syrup, for this guy who grew up in New England and has roots in Vermont it was the first time I really saw it first-hand. Click on the links above to see Vine videos of the sugaring process. Special thanks to Brent of Heikkinen Farms for the grand tour!
  • Bourbon is the new bacon.
  • The very people who could benefit from crowd-sourced fundraising, and have some of the most compelling stories which would warrant the contributions, are probably the least likely to be aware of it or know how to go about the process.
  • Motorola Mobility debuted its new headquarters in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart this past week. But as its staff has shrunk under the ownership of Google, and with it being sold to China’s tech giant Lenovo, how many people will really end up working there? Only time will tell.
  • Simple video editing, such as what I did with last week’s Trump game video, was a chore on the PC. I did not want to learn a full video editing suite as I did not need all of that capability. After trying literally 6 different tools, I found something decent with Any Video Converter. What I learned here is simple: I need a Mac!
  • In thinking about team cohesiveness and collaboration I recalled a great sports analogy - 25 players, 25 cabs, which was a term applied to Boston Red Sox teams of old, ones which never won a World Series. When you bond and spend time together above and beyond just the task at hand, you gain a greater understanding of each other, and this makes your bond as a team stronger. Not to mention winning 3 World Series trophies in the last decade.
  • I continue to be reminded of a phrase once told me by a wise man, that it’s easier to get someone to quit than it is to fire them.
  • This past week cereal giant General Mills changed its privacy policy on its Web site to attempt to bind customers who interact with them online to arbitration in the event they attempt to sue them. No sooner did this come out did the Internet flurry with comments on how impractical (aka dumb) this truly was, and they later backed down from it and reverted to their previous privacy policy. I could go on about this but reading this analysis on General Mills’ move by Shel Holtz says pretty much what I would have said myself.
  • Now that I have a way of doing simple video editing, namely splicing and cropping, here’s another gem from my past that I discovered from one of my old VHS tapes. Here I am interviewed by a local TV station in April, 1989 for a softball marathon at my alma mater. In watching this I observed a few things, namely that I had a lot of hair back then, and you don’t see reporting like this anymore today. You can watch my TV interview on YouTube or it is embedded below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/25/14 at 10:10 PM
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 18 2014

photo of Lake Butte des Mortes in Oshkosh, WI

So I took the photo above early last Friday morning, as it was the view I woke up to. Then as I went to fire up my Dell I realized I had left my list of what I had learned for the week at home. Oops.

  • I have been experimenting with Bit Torrent Sync for a few days this week and so far I am liking it. It is a peer-to-peer synchronization tool, which in layman’s terms means you can sync files directly between 2 computers, whether they be PC, Mac or mobile. As it is direct, both devices need to be powered on and active. It is touted as a replacement for Dropbox without your files being copied and stored on Dropbox’s servers. It may take a little extra work, but it may be worth the extra privacy.
  • There is a big difference between paid time off, or PTO, and vacation.
  • From the above learned item it can be inferred I was off of work last week, and a lot of the time was spent on purging and simplifying – well, at least a start to it. I learned that if something was packed in the same box it was in when I moved to Chicago almost a decade earlier that I most likely did not need it, and it should be sent to Goodwill, or in the case of some items, to the American Liver Foundation. They were the recipient of, among other things, the 15+ year-old filing cabinet that I don’t think I have even opened in the last few years. Its contents, or at least what I am saving, fit in 3 paper boxes, and most of that will be eventually scanned to PDFs.
  • So far 2 people have used my personal DRYV discount link to earn $20 in free dry cleaning and laundry which meant I have earned $40 in free services. If you’re in Chicago, give it a try – click the link or use code 6H1A to earn free services, and thanks in advance.
  • Speaking of requests, 3 people have thus far responded to my blog post on sending me Box Tops for Education for my daughter’s school. Now her school is having a contest, for which class collects the most Box Tops, and I want hers to win… and so does she. Please follow the link above and thanks in advance.
  • I took my first bike ride of the season along the north side of Lake Michigan. It was awesome. Then the next day the temperature dropped in half and a day later it was snowing.
  • When looking for new lights (or simply, lights) for said bike, I got Blackburn Flea 2.0 Front Headlight and Rear Light Combo with USB Charger. Lights I can charge with my computer or external battery pack is a good thing. And yes, that is an affiliate link, so buy some for yourself and I will earn a few pennies.
  • The Pandora streaming music service has had an alarm clock feature, where you can awaken to music of your choice. Imagine setting it to wake up to Morrissey.
  • The quote of the week goes to billionaire entrepreneur and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who in response of paying a US$25,000 fine after his public address announcer criticized an NBA referee on Twitter, said, “Like I said, it’s a hurricane in a urinal, we flush and move on.”
  • Part of my simplifying is getting rid of crap or getting it into a more manageable format, like scanning paperwork to PDFs and converting old VHS video tapes to DVDs. I tried the latter with a few tapes and unlocked some real gems, many going back over 20 years. One example is a news story where I am in a couple of camera shots when Donald Trump visited the Milton Bradley headquarters after the launch of the Trump board game. I was technically covering the event for my college radio station WNEK-FM, and you can see me weaseling the microphone into one camera shot. The reality is that I was a huge Trump fan in the late 80’s and through a connection I got into meet him. I also met the videographer who shot this footage and had lunch with him after Trump flew off, so maybe that’s why I got so much coverage? I have embedded the news story below or you can watch me and the Donald on YouTube.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/22/14 at 09:34 PM
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Friday, April 11, 2014

What I Learned This Week For April 11 2014

photo of jewelry store sign

With the warmer temperatures here in Chicago, I may have been distracted a bit, so I am not sure if I missed anything this week as I was trying to smell the few flowers that were out there. Still there was things I learned that were beneficial to me, and they may be the same for you too.

  • Just because it is your line of work or industry doesn’t mean you can spell it properly – see the photo above. Maybe that is why there are so many acronyms in technology?
  • If you require me to create a login and password in order to leave a comment on your blog, forget it. Most of the blogs I read are either small enough where they can moderate the few posts they receive or are large enough where they can have someone to manage comments. It’s too easy to throw up a login, and surely there will always be comment spam, but spammers can create a login too.
  • Politicians in Chicago are still moving forward with a plastic grocery bag ban as apparently they are the dominant content of litter throughout the city, and there’s also environmental concerns as these bags are made from petroleum. For myself, this will not be a good thing, as I use these bags as trash bags in the home and in the car. So once they are banned, I will then need to buy small plastic garbage bags.
  • While I was making the odiogo logo more prominent on The Hot Iron as I mentioned in my last post, I also did a little clean-up and made room to add a Crafted in Chicago button to the site. Created by one of the minds behind CentUp I thought I would show my solidarity to my community.
  • Continuing on the Chicago thread, I saw this site proposing a potential redesign of Chicago’s transit system. Where some routes make sense, with shifts in working from home more prevalent, it would be interesting to see if it makes more sense to “wire” the city with Internet access rather than transit routes.
  • My lovely wife went to Minneapolis over the weekend and all I could think of was the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show as covered by Husker Du back in the 80’s. In the video embedded below, or linked to here on YouTube, the opening of it is the band crossing the street and the same spot where Mary throws her hat up in the air. Granted many of those reading this have no idea what I am talking about, but watch one episode of the show then this video and it will make complete sense.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/11/14 at 09:14 AM
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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Odiogo Reads The Hot Iron To You

odiogo logoWhere most of you reading this post from The Hot Iron blog are looking at the text on various computing devices, and a few of you may be using screen reading software to convert the words on the screen to speech, did you know anyone reading could have this and every other post read to you?

For years, going back as far as the earliest posts, the ability to listen to my blog posts has existed, but for some reason I didn’t promote is much as I should have. As there’s no time like the present, allow me to introduce to you The Hot Iron read to you by odiogo.

Odiogo is a service that converts text to speech into an audio file and distributes the files in MP3 format. You can bookmark this page and listen to the audio for the last 10 posts. There is also an RSS feed which you can subscribe to in your favorite RSS feed reader and podcast player.

Odiogo started as a free service, changing to a paid service model last year with an exception to non-commericial blogs. As I have yet to be able to retire to the Cayman Islands from the money I (don’t) make here, I have been able to keep the transcription of these posts, as everything else here, free.

Odiogo uses a digital voice to read posts. One major reason why I added it was because it was able to convert “Maddaloni” very well! Typically an audio version of a podcast is available within an hour or so of when it was posted to the site.

Along with writing this post, I have made the link to the odiogo page much more prominent in the sidebar of the site. I also invite you to listen to one of the audio transcriptions and let me know what you think of it. Have you already added it to your podcast app? Will you never listen to it again? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


Did you enjoy this? Subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS/XML feed or Read by Email.

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Posted by Mike Maddaloni on 04/08/14 at 09:09 PM
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The Hot Iron strives to present unique content and perspective on business, technology and other topics by Mike Maddaloni, a Web and business strategist based in Chicago.

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